No goose, no good.
I'm not gonna pull your chain, beat around the bush or humor you to keep your
attention for the duration of this review. Hopefully, your insightful gamer-sense
is tingling like you just swallowed a jellyfish or something. If not, it should
be. Frankly, if you turned your browser to another review, I would applaud you.
Top Gun: Combat Zones is just another one of those things you want to
run over and leave for dead on a deserted road somewhere. Roadkill, there we
go. That's the perfect name. This game is about as useful to a gamer as fresh
Titus' new arcade style flight combat mess is an all around bad game, from
the plot all the way down to the control.
The story is pretty lame and has absolutely nothing to do with the movie. The
Combat Zone is a glorified VR training program set up to improve a pilot's performance
in the field. It recreates and simulates popular battles from history. Skirmishes
from the Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War and others make up your settings.
That's pretty much it. No real goal and no real story since it's only a training
You fly through a series of 36 linear missions over 4 locations while engaging
in air-to-air and surface-to-air battles. All this means is that you will be
visiting the same four lackluster areas 9 times apiece. The missions
have no cohesion and are thrown at you very randomly, bouncing you around the
globe with no hint as to why. Since the story is nonexistent, don't expect any
between mission dialogue or cinemas to glue the missions together. The whole
game plays like consecutive quick start missions. It doesn't really inspire
you to play at all.
And why do you pilot modern day aircraft if the VR training is from battles
that took place over thirty years ago? Not only are the crafts chronologically
displaced, but their numbers are few. You'll fly the Navy's F-14, F-18, F-22,
and a couple others. This hardly compares to Airforce
Delta Storm's massive list of planes.
The weapons are simple. You fire rockets, surface-to-air missiles, air-to-air
missiles and drop a few bombs. Pretty standard fare for a modern day flight
game. But the explosions are missing that fiery, destructive flair you want
to see after shooting several missiles at one target. No pilot worth his weight
in memory cards is gonna be satisfied with the paltry firecracker explosions
Top Gun dishes out.
The remaining graphical features are weak. It's hard to make out enemies on
the ground because there's no texture detail. The planes can't hold a candle
to Airforce Delta Storm's intricately detailed crafts. Heck, even the
'before mission' briefing map is featureless. This is probably one of the most
important aspects of the game since it's dotted with objectives. The problem
is, you can barely see them. At least the lens flare from the sun is decent.
Although Top Gun's shortcomings are many, there is one that dwarfs them
all - the mind-burning control. Pitch, ascent and descent are all controlled
with the left analog stick, while L1 and L2 handle your turning from left to
right. This is absolutely backwards! Pitch should be controlled with the triggers
and turning with the left stick. The default configuration is nearly impossible
to use comfortably. I never got used to it. Since it's all on the same stick,
I often found myself upside-down or doing a barrel roll at the most inopportune
moments. There are a few alternate control configurations, but all of them use
the left analog stick in the same way.
To make matters worse, they decided to throw in special maneuvers to help aid
you in avoiding enemy fire. By pressing L3, you can perform special braking
maneuvers, jinks, half-rolls and a couple others. But again, heaping all this
on the left analog stick just compounds the control problems, as you're frequently
doing many more stunts than you should. Needless to say, the result is a lot
of senseless crashing and burning.
The audio score is nothing to write home about. It's fine. The engine sounds
work well for the game, missiles and rockets whiz by with adequate sounds and
explosions bang and boom the way they should. The sound is probably the best
part about the game.
Top Gun: Combat Zones is not worth a purchase, a rental or even a glance.
The story isn't there, the gameplay is very boring, the graphics aren't good
and the control will leave you craving for the blood of a programmer. Even Tom
Cruise should pass.